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Letter from Lt Col Dan Ward, USAF.

To The Editor,

There are three significant misrepresentations in the 2013 article "Current Barriers to Successful Implementation of FIST Principles," by Keller and Wirthlin. I would like to offer the following corrections:

1. The authors misrepresent my opinion several times, saying "Ward agrees" to propositions I disagree with. Specifically, the authors claim I believe FIST is "not conducive for immature technologies" and that using mature technologies "is often the antithesis of innovation." This demonstrates a shallow reading of the FIST literature and a misunderstanding of the nature of innovation itself. Many writers, including myself, explain that innovation often results from putting mature technologies together in new and interesting ways. Using mature components is therefore entirely consistent with delivering innovative new capabilities to the marketplace.

2. The authors misrepresent the scope of their own research. They claim to have reviewed "the multitude of materials related to FIST," but the most recent document they cited was published in 2009. They therefore omitted four years of publications on the topic, upwards of 25 articles, journal papers, conference presentations, and other material published by myself and others. Such shallow research presents an incomplete picture of the topic and does a disservice to readers. It also helps explain why their portrayal of FIST was so far off the mark and why they claimed "no evidence is offered" and that FIST "provides limited guidance on practical implementation." A more complete survey of the recent literature would have revealed considerable evidence and guidance.

3. Finally, the authors misrepresent their contribution to the FIST concept. They claim to have "expanded upon" the FIST heuristics and offered some "recommended additions," but fully half of their additions either cite my work, lightly paraphrase my work without citation, or are copied word-for-word from my work without citation. For example, one of the heuristics they claimed to add was the following: "The project leader's influence over the development is inversely proportional to the budget and schedule." That exact line appears on page 103 of my thesis, but the authors present it as their own original contribution.

The article is riddled with other errors, largely resulting from shallow research (see #2 above). It attributes the concept of "disruptive innovation" to a 2011 publication by Dyer instead of a 1995 paper by Christensen. It asserts "early operator feedback on a satellite program ... is nearly impossible," which overlooks the successful Operationally Responsive Space office, established in 2007. It claims "FIST is less conducive for complex, large programs," which overlooks the FIST Navy's Virginia Class submarine program.

While I enthusiastically welcome discussions and debates about FIST, I am disappointed in the way Keller and Wirthlin misrepresented my opinions, my work, and their own contribution to the topic. They incorrectly attributed opinions to me which I do not share, overlooked four years' worth of material, and claimed my words as their own. I hope future writers do not follow their example and instead present a more accurate, thorough, and original contribution.

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Article Details
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Author:Ward, Dan
Publication:Defense A R Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2015
Previous Article:Current barriers to successful implementation of FIST principles.
Next Article:Response from Capt Brandon Keller, USAF, and Lt Col J. Robert Wirthlin, USAF.

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